January/February 2001: Volume 11 Number 1

PFXweb and the Solution Service Provider | Understanding PFX Licences | Creating PFXodbc Data Source | Products Update | Powerflex new

PFXweb and the Solution Service Provider

David Bennett – Powerflex Corporation – Australia

The Internet changes everything. Its unique ability to connect businesses and customers regardless of distance and borders will eventually change virtually every aspect of how we do business, even how we define business. But it won't happen until we have the infrastructure, the tools and people with the skills and the vision.

The Internet Challenge

The first generation was the Internet Service Provider or ISP who provided access and servers based on proven technology. With this you could publish Web pages and send e-mail. Businesses flocked to establish a presence and to see what everyone else was doing, but little changed for most of them.

In the second generation there was the Application Service Provider or ASP. The applications are general purpose programs which typically add database and limited user interaction to Web sites. They give you things like searches, E-commerce, live stock prices and software updates.

One of the reasons that ASPs are not doing better is that they have concentrated on talking up the technology rather than providing solutions to business problems. Unfortunately it is very difficult and expensive to create familiar data processing solutions in the current Web environment.

The PFXweb Solution

PFXweb will go into beta testing shortly. It is a powerful product, ideally suited to creating a data-driven Web site linked to an existing PFXplus Windows application. It can also be used to create forms-based Web pages similar to those produced by other products.

Applications are not solutions. We believe that the third generation of the Web will see the rise of the Solution Service Provider, or SSP. For the first time, business will have genuine cost-effective Internet solutions to their day-to-day problems.

Take a simple example. A company runs a tropical resort. Their customers come from overseas and from different timezones. The company wants to take bookings and give quotes 24 hours per day. A Web Solution is perfect, if it can be delivered at the right price. That needs several things.

The Way Of The Future

First, we need broadband Internet access for the business at a price they can afford. ADSL may well be the answer.

Second we need better software infrastructure. Our bet is that Microsoft .NET and XML-based communications will be winners, and will also be here soon.

Third, we need a pool of developers with the experience and business knowledge to turn the technology into Solutions. That is the big opportunity for our customers.

Finally, we need the tools. We are working hard with other technology providers to enhance PFXweb to the point where it can be used to create highly-functional third-generation Web Solutions, as the other parts of the puzzle fall into place. Then we shall have the Internet which changes everything. We hope to see you there.

Top of Page

Understanding PFX Licences

Many times when installing a new version of PFXplus or even an upgrade, it is easy to enter the incorrect registration details or combine the wrong registration details with the wrong version of PFXplus. This article is intended as a check list so that next time you are stuck with an invalid registration error, you'll know what to do.

The universal adoption of the Web browser has resulted in HTML becoming the common language for all major platforms; Windows, MacOS, and Unix variants. Web browsers have in effect become a "free" runtime with which to access the massive store of HTML documentation available on the World Wide Web. A recent survey reported the existence of over 200 million Web pages, most of which are written in HTML.

Most Common Mistakes


The commonest mistakes leading to invalid registration problems are:

1. Typing in the registered name and activation code incorrectly.

It is imperative that these details are typed in character for character, exactly as they appear on the Licence Agreement. Care should be taken not to mistake the letter "O" for the number "0", or the letter "I" for the number "1" and vice-versa.

2. Mixing runtime versions.

Sometimes an attempt is made to run an older runtime with registration details for an updated version.

In many cases the same registration details will run both older versions and updated ones, however under some circumstances new registration details will need to be issued with an update, which will not run with the older version.

One way to check the version of a runtime or compiler, is by checking the time stamp. For example,

Check the Time Stamp

In this case, you can tell from the time stamp that this is a version 5.0 runtime. You can also compare this with the runtime on the installation disks to see if it is the same byte size. (Or just read the splash screen). If in any doubt, copy the runtime from the installation disks.

3. Mixing developer runtimes with execute only runtimes.

The registered details for a development licence will not work with a runtime for distribution, and vice-versa. To reduce confusion between developer runtimes which have been supplied with the development licence, and those for the end users, there is a "D" appended to the end of the developer runtime names. For example PFLND, PFLTD, PFL3D.

In older versions of PFXplus however, the runtimes have the same name. In this case, compare the byte size with the size of the runtimes on the installation disks, to distinguish the developer runtimes from the execute only runtimes, or rename them.

4. There is more than one PFX.INI.

Given that the Registry is configured to use a PFX.INI, if there is more than one PFX.INI on the DOS path or current directory, it is possible that configuration details are not being obtained from the INI file which you expect, but from another one with unsuitable registration details.

In this case:

1. Search your system for all PFX.INI files and remove or rename any unnecessary ones.

2. Make sure that the PFX.INI which should be used, is the one from which configuration details are obtained, by ensuring that

PFXplus will search for a PFX.INI file in the current directory before it searches the directories on the DOS path.

5. The incorrect runtime is being used.

It is possible that the runtime you believe you are using is not the one actually being executed.

For example, you may be using a developer's runtime instead of an execute only one, or an older one instead of the new one.

To overcome this, make sure that the runtime location is either in the current directory, or is on the DOS path, listed before any other directory containing any other versions of the same runtime(s).

6. Ensure sDataPath is set correctly in PFX.INI.

Ensure that sDataPath is set correctly in the Registry and/or PFX.INI.

Reissuing Registration Details

New registration details need to be issued in the following cases:

To run with an unlimited distribution licence, programs will need to be compiled with a development licence that has the exact same registered name. If this isn't the case, new registration details will need to be issued for the development licence or unlimited distribution runtime licence.

Deciphering Registration Codes

This will help clarify which registration details will run which PFXplus development licence/runtime:

We hope this has addressed some of the most commonly asked questions about Powerflex licenses. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you still have any unanswered questions.

Top of Page

Creating PFXodbc Data Source

Eva Meisel – Powerflex Corporation – Australia

PFXodbc is the software that allows applications that comply with the ODBC (Open Database Connectivity) standard to read and write information stored in Powerflex and compatible file formats. That means hundreds of programs from Microsoft and many other companies can access your data.

In this article we show how to use PFXodbc to access the member data file in Excel and Word.

Creating a Data Source

Once the PFXodbc has been installed, you can set-up the data source through the ODBC Administrator:

Open the ODBC Administrator.
Via Start menu - Settings - Control Panel, open the ODBC Administrator (usually labelled as ODBC, ODBC (32-bit), 32-bit ODBC or ODBC Data Sources).

Add a new data source.
With the User DSN (Data source Name) tab active, select the Add button for adding a data source.

Select Powerflex ODBC driver.
Click the Powerflex ODBC Driver item in the displayed list to select it, and select the Finish button.

Fill in the Setup form.
The Powerflex ODBC Data Source Setup opens and allows you to enter the name and location of the Powerflex data files that you want to connect to via ODBC. This form requires you to enter data in the following fields:

Data Source Name
- enter a short meaningful name that identifies the data source.

Database Name
- enter a name for the ODBC database associated with the data source (declared in Data Source Name). It is used to create a directory to hold the system files.

Data Search Path
- enter a path(s) used by the ODBC Driver to find the Powerflex data files. Any files whose location is not included in the data search path will not be found. Do not enter a dot "." character into the data search path, as this will result in a warning and eventual failure of the configuration process.

Registration name
- enter the registration name supplied with your copy of PFXodbc driver software.

Registration code
- enter the registration code supplied with your copy of PFXodbc.

Other fields are optional.

PFXodbc Data Source Setup

Click the OK button to register the ODBC data source and create the system tables.

Connect the ODBC driver to your new data source.

Click the Test Connection button on the Connection form. When the "Successfully connected to 'member' " message appears, click Close. Everything is working!

Create entries in the system table for your Powerflex files.

In the 'Powerflex Make SQL - Options' form, choose options as required. Use the defaults, but chose the "Process all Data Files on the Data Search Path" data file processing option. This ensures that you will create your ODBC data source from all the .dat files found in the specified c:\pfx500\sample directory.

The ODBC data source is ready to use!

When you see the message 'Conversion run completed' with no errors, the system tables are prepared for use by any ODBC compliant application.

Accessing Powerflex Files In Excel

Now, you will read the member.dat sample file into an Excel spreadsheet.

Open an Excel spreadsheet. On the menu, select Get External data, New Database Query. In the Choose Data Source list, select 'member' database, tick the Use the Query Wizard check box and click OK.

While connecting to the data source, the Powerflex Data source Login screen appears. For this example, leave default entries and click OK. The Query Wizard opens and offers the database and fields to select.

Select member file in MS Excel

Select member database and the fields you want. Here, you could also set a filter to your file. For this example, however, skip the Filter Data form and on the next form, set Sort Order by field No in an Ascending order. After the 'Return Data To Microsoft Excel' option is selected, click the Finish button. And finally, select the 'Returning External Data to Microsoft Excel' option and click OK.

MS Excel can now readily process Powerflex data.

Powerflex data in MS Excel

Accessing Powerflex Files in MS Word.

If you ever need to read a Powerflex data file into a Microsoft Word document, PFXodbc is the tool to use!

As a simple example, create a mailing list from the supplied members.dat sample file.

Open a new Word document . From the menu, select Tools, Mail Merge. Mail Merge Helper form opens with 3 frames.

Main Document

- select Create button, Mailing Labels.

Data Source

- select Get Data button, and then Create Data Source. When Create Data form opens, click MS Query button. Then Choose Data Source - select member (the data source you have created before) from Databases. Accept defaults on the PFX Login form.

The Query Wizard opens, and navigates to select the required fields from member.dat - double-click surname and given_names. Skip the Filter Data form, and select Sort by surname on the next form.

To complete this phase of the process, you can select the 'Return Data to MS Word 'option and Finish.

Before you can proceed to the third frame Merge, MS Word needs you to set up the main document with all the relevant particulars.

On the Label options form, select your preferred format for labels (this example uses '5848Divider'). On the Create Labels form, choose to Insert Merge Field surname, press Enter, and insert the given_names field. Click the OK and then the Merge buttons. From the offered drop down list, select the 'Merge to New Document' option, and click the Merge button.

The result is a document for printing small labels with names from the member sample file.

Accessing Powerflex Files in MS Word

The examples demonstrate how easy it is to use our PFXodbc to set up a data source from any Powerflex and compatible data files.

With similarly little effort, you can create ODBC data sources for many other applications, such as Seagate Crystal Reports, Microsoft Access, Web query tool BRIO, and so on. The possibilities are endless.

Top of Page

Products Update

Be in Control - Use Our UEOL/UELR

The UEOL is our unlimited distribution Execute Only Licence and the UELR is our unlimited distribution Execute Only Licence with Reporter. Both these licences allow you to distribute your PFXplus application to as many sites as you like. In fact if you have several applications written using PFXplus they may all be distributed using the one UEOL/UELR.

Not only do these licences give you control but they are extremely cost effective breaking even at 25 sites. Yes! that's right your 26th and subsequent sites are all free.

Benefits of the UEOL/UELR

If you are distributing your application to sites running MS SQL and are interested in a UELR, come and talk to us.

PFXplus With SQL Direct

PFXplus with SQL Direct is a new runtime option which we added with PFXplus version 5.0.

SQL Direct is a more cost effective way to licence SQL access. However, where full SQL access is transparent to the programmer, SQL Direct requires SQL code to be used to access SQL data.

Updated Companion Products

Powerflex companion products, PFXC-lib, PFXcrystal, PFXbrowse, PFXodbc and PFXsort have all recently been upgraded to version 5.0.

This is a significant upgrade because it removes the 2 gigabyte file size limit. Now you can access data and index files of any size using the Powerflex companion products.

Talk to us about upgrading now.

Top of Page

Powerflex News

Visit by Minister For Small Business

In early September we were privileged to receive a visit by Mr. Tony Robinson, the Parliamentary Secretary for State and Regional Development (including Information Technology) in the Victorian State Government to discuss the issues important to small business with particular reference to e-commerce and e-communication.

Our current state government is looking for ways to assist small business to take advantage of the emerging e-commerce opportunities.

The photograph shows David Bennett welcoming Mr. Robinson to the Powerflex offices.

Visit at Powerflex

Top of Page

Current Versions of Powerflex Release Software

PFXplus Developer's Kit 16/32-bit 4.23
PFXplus Developer's Kit 32-bit/SQL 5.00
PFXplus Runtimes 2.63 to 5.00
PFXplus SCO 4.30
PFXplus Linux 4.41
PFX C-lib MSDOS—DOS-386 4.20
PFX C-lib for Windows 5.00
PFX C-lib for Windows with MS SQL 5.0
PFX C-lib for SCO Unix/Linux 4.41
PFXsort for DOS-386, Win32/SQL 5.0
PFXsort for Unixware 5.0
PFXsort SCO Unix/linux 5.0
PFXbrowse 32-bit with Btrieve 5.0
PFXbrowse 32-bit for Windows 5.0
PFXbrowse Linux 4.41
PFXbrowse SCO Unix 2.10
PFXodbc Driver 5.0
PFXcrystal 32-bit for Windows 5.0

For further information contact Powerflex Corporation or your local dealer.

Top of Page